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June 30, 2016updated 01 Jul 2016 7:37am

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp makes major move into UK broadcasting with purchase of Talksport owner Wireless Group

By Dominic Ponsford

News Corp has agreed a £220m deal to buy the owner of UK national radio station Talksport.

Wireless Group also owns weekly free titles Sport Magazine and 21 local radio stations in the UK and Ireland. Wireless Group was born this year out of the sale of UTV Media’s TV stations.

News Corp is paying 70 per cent over the closing price of 185p per share of yesterday.

It is a major further move into UK broadcasting for the publisher of The Sun, Times and Sunday Times.

Talksport is the UK’s most popular commercial radio station with reach over 3m listeners a week, according to RAJAR.

News Corp also owns 40 per cent of Sky Plc.

It said in a statement: “News Corp believes that Wireless represents an excellent strategic fit with its existing operations, broadening News Corp’s range of services in the UK, Ireland and internationally.”

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News UK has the rights to broadcast Premier League football highlights online and Talksport has the radio broadcasting rights.

News Corp said: “Wireless’ audience complements the audience of The Sun, and there is significant opportunity to increase engagement and monetisation through cross-promotion and leveraging Wireless’ and News Corp’s respective talent and advertising sales forces. The acquisition also raises the prospect of further international digital expansion for the Wireless brands.

“The UK and Ireland are key markets for News Corp. In the past few years News Corp has acquired Storyful in Ireland and Unruly in the UK. Those companies continue to operate as standalone businesses and they are adding value to the wider News group’s global assets. The proposed acquisition of Wireless follows this trend.

“News Corp, which is evolving rapidly into a more digital and increasingly global company with a diverse revenue mix, has a proven track record of investing in content that drives audiences and in businesses that complement its existing brands and platforms.”

News Corp chief executive Robert Thomson said: “The proposed investment is a clear sign of our commitment to, and belief in, the United Kingdom as a place to do business successfully and profitably.

“We look forward to welcoming Wireless into News Corp ‘s global family of businesses. With its strength in radio, as well as its digital and international growth potential, Wireless will help improve the engagement of our publishing brands, especially those within News UK.

“There is no doubt that Wireless is a company reborn since the sale of its television assets last year and we are excited by its prospects.

“We plan to leverage Wireless’ portfolio of radio and digital audio sports rights, including the Premier League, in the UK, Ireland and beyond, through News Corp ‘s digital platforms. We believe the businesses together can be far more than the sum of their parts.”

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